Rules and Regulations of the South End Landmarks:District Came to Light at Tuesday’s Hearing

August 10, 2018
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Eleven proposals were on the table for design review by the South End Landmark District Commission on Aug. 7. Throughout the more than four hour meeting, the Commission heard case after case, consisting of everything from the installation of cellphone antenna equipment to the replacement of historic doors. A few notable proposals included:

At 2 Cazenove Street, applicant Lewis Legon proposed replacing the historic windows at the first and second levels on the front facade.

Legon said they are currently a “mishmash of original and non-original windows,” and that this building has been abandoned for five years and not touched in many years before that. He said that the parlor level windows are from the ’70s and ’80s, and the ones on the top level are aluminum clad.

The applicant is looking to put a “uniform, fresh look” throughout the building, and wants to replace all the windows. The windows on the second level proved to be a major talking point for the commission. Commissioner John Freeman said that they could not tell from the pictures or the presentation whether or not the windows on the second floor were historic.

“Even if they aren’t original but they may be of significant age, we would be prefer that they be repaired rather than replaced,” said Commissioner John Amodeo.

Legon said he had someone come look at the windows, and honestly told the commission that the person said the windows could be restored, even though they are in “horrible shape” and would cost $1,200 per window to repair.

“I’m very surprised that you wouldn’t want…a brand new wood window to replicate what was there,” Legon said.

Freeman responded that the commission understands and sympathizes with Legon’s point, but that they have to follow the guidelines, which say that they must be repaired if they are of significant age, so “there’s nothing we can do.”

Amodeo told the applicant that he can replace the bottom and top floors as he wishes, and can come back with more information on the second floor windows so a better judgement can be made.

A motion was made to approve the replacement of the windows on the first and third floors, but they could not approve the replacement of the second floor windows. The center windows and bays are to be two over two, and the side window and dormer should be one over one. The motion was approved.

Adam Grassi of Huck Design represented 27 Lawrence St., at which he proposed the installation of a roof deck and an HVAC unit. The HVAC unit proved to be troubling for the commission, because Amodeo said that the staff believes that the unit would be visible at a level that is “not approvable for us.”

Amodeo recommended that a subcommittee (which he said he would be happy to be on) be formed to figure out a good placement for the HVAC unit. Its currently proposed location is behind the chimney.

Amodeo said that one or two people need to be on the roof of the building who would stand with the caution tape representing the HVAC unit, and people on the ground would speak to the people on the roof via phone to ask them to move the mock-up to different locations on the roof until there is an acceptable level of visibility. He also said that they are not too concerned about the view of the back deck, and if they do approve any visibility if would have to be a steel rail with minimal design.

“This is a good starting point for the subcommittee,” Amodeo said. The proposal was remanded to the subcommittee with Amodeo and Commissioner Catherine Hunt.

Tremont Street could soon see a huge splash of color if applicant Andreina Feijoo-Gomez goes through with her desire to paint what used to be Tremont 647 and the adjacent Sister Sorel different shades of blue.

Whaling in Oklahoma, the Japanese restaurant that will occupy the shuttered Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel, is being proposed to be painted a lighter blue. The storefront will represent ocean and sky. For the main entrance, a purple door is proposed. The entrance where Sister Sorel was will be painted a darker blue and not have signage. Though the door will remain, it will only be used for egress. The signage will consist of simple white letters that are 6 3/8 inches high.

Commissioner Hunt wanted to know why the doors are two different colors, and the applicant responded that they wanted the exterior doors to reflect the interior. One side is going to be more feminine, so it will have the purple door, and the other side is more masculine, so it will have a blue door.

Since the applicant is not asking to make any changes other than to only paint the existing wood storefront and the existing wood doors, the commission cannot enforce anything.

Amodeo said the commission does not regulate paint on wood, and though they can recommend dark colors in the landmark district, they cannot prevent an applicant from painting wood whatever color they choose.

Amodeo did warn the applicant that people may ask them how they were allowed to paint the storefront in these colors, and that they could start a lot of public comment from doing so. He said that people will most likely reach out to the commission with the same concerns, and that all he can tell them is that they do not regulate paint on wood.

He recommended that the applicant have a light-blue sign band to grab the attention of people walking by, and then use more muted colors on the rest of the facade.

There was a motion to approve the sign as submitted and note that though they do not have regulation over the proposed paint scheme and cannot prevent the applicant from going through with it, they do not approve those colors. The motion was approved.

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